Best off-the-grid vacations for outdoor adventurers

Published June 2020

The majority of National Parks and coveted hiking trails across the U.S. closed down in recent months to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now, most are reopening to visitors—just in time for National Outdoors Month.

After sheltering in place, we’re all more than ready for a change of scenery and the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones. But, it’s critical to keep safety top of mind. Vacasa travel experts hand-selected some of the best off-the-beaten-path vacation destinations in the country that you can drive to and avoid crowds, from east to west. And, you can choose from Vacasa homes cleaned to CDC standards with private amenities in every remote destination that made the list.

So, take your old hiking boots out of the closet, dust them off, and load your backpack with essentials. Don’t forget your mask and hand sanitizer! Mother Nature is calling.

West Coast

body of water with mountain views in snoqualmie, wa

Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

An enchanting mountain village, Snoqualmie Pass is a hotspot during the winter but has plenty to offer during the warmer seasons. Kayak along Snoqualmie River, or experience the dramatic beauty of Snoqualmie Falls, featured in the cult favorite ’90s show Twin Peaks. Mt. Rainier is open now, too, and it's just two hours away by car—or 63 miles by foot, if that’s what you're into.

Where to stay in Snoqualmie Pass

outdoor hot tub in sisters, or

Sisters, Oregon

Named after the three volcanic peaks outside of town, Sisters is nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, and reminds most visitors of the Old West. Check out the Sisters to Smith Rock Scenic Bikeway, and test your limits by traversing 40 miles of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area along the Pacific Crest Trail. If you’re feeling inspired by the best-selling book Wild, you can turn your hike into a months-long journey.

Where to stay in Sisters

waterfall rushing into lake in mammoth lakes, ca

Mammoth Lakes, California

Yosemite National Park is now open, and it’s only a half-hour drive from Mammoth Lakes, a small town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Yosemite is well known for its towering sequoia trees and roaring waterfalls, but Mammoth Lakes has a unique charm of its own. It’s home to geological wonders like Devils Postpile National Monument and the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls.

Where to stay in Mammoth Lakes

Mountain States

vacation home with mountain views in Big Sky, MT

Big Sky, Montana

Less than an hour drive from Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky is a gateway to unbeatable outdoor adventure. The vibrant community is full of wildlife, whitewater rapids, and canyon ravines. Dip your toes into Lava Lake, and immerse yourself in the towering emerald trees surrounding Ousel Falls.

Where to stay in Big Sky

Storefronts in Taos, NM

Taos, New Mexico

In the small village of Taos, you can experience authentic cuisine, fine art, and rich spiritual traditions. But, the town’s natural beauty is, without a doubt, the most striking aspect of Taos. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Grande Gorge, there’s plenty to discover. Summit New Mexico’s highest point, 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, or spend hours exploring the wide open plains of the Rí­o Grande del Norte National Monument.

Where to stay in Taos

Grand Lake, CO lake

Grand Lake, Colorado

At the base of the Rocky Mountain National Park, quaint Grand Lake sits along the peaceful shores of Colorado’s largest natural lake. With a population of less than 500, Grand Lake is a true hidden gem. Keep an eye out for bears as you stroll along the Colorado River Trail to the abandoned mining town of Lulu City.

Where to stay in Grand Lake

East Coast

Bethel vacation rental

Bethel, Maine

Often called Maine’s most beautiful mountain village, Bethel has a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere and an easily walkable downtown. Among alpine peaks in the White Mountain National Forest, breathe the crisp mountain air and experience breathtaking scenery. Bring your binoculars to get a full view of osprey, eagles, moose, and more when you visit the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge.

Where to stay in Bethel

outdoor firepit in yard of vacation rental in Bryson City, NC

Bryson City, North Carolina

Tucked in the majestic Smoky Mountains, Bryson City is one of North Carolina’s best-kept secrets. A historic town with virtually zero tourists, it has plenty of appeal for those seeking a remote escape. Brave the Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome Trail, or the Appalachian Trail from Nantahala River to Cheoah Bald—but only if you’re an experienced hiker!

Where to stay in Bryson City

a view of the ocean from the deck of an anna maria island home

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Anna Maria is a small town bursting with old Florida charm, and it’s one of the best places in the country to experience wildlife and maritime habitats. While walking miles of untouched white sandy beaches, you can expect to see dolphins, sea turtles, fish, and rare birds. Or, you can head to one of its many serene nature preserves, like Perico or Highlands Hammock State Park.

Where to stay in Anna Maria Island

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